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Monday, July 22, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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May 31, 2006

Curbed Wheel

I took a lot of pictures of the car on the lift during delivery day thinking that it would be a while before it found itself 8 feet in the air again. I was wrong.

While I have made a habit of not using this car for commuting or other mundane tasks in order to extend its warranty period, it's so damn fun to drive that it takes a lot of effort not to reach for the keys every day. However, one evening after work I decided to run out and grab a few things at the food store under the guise of testing a MP3 CD I just burned.

Mission complete, I was exiting the parking lot when a couple of mammoth SUVs approached me from both sides and limited my ability to make as wide a turn as I normally would. The result was predictable. I felt the right rear tire contact the abnormally sharp curb and I cursed loudly enough to be heard in the next zip code because I knew I'd just spent $500. I quickly pulled over, got out, walked around the car and confirmed my fears. The damage wasn't as bad as I thought -- indeed the protective lip on the tire took the brunt of the impact with no visible damage, but sure enough -- I had curbed the rim. I'd hit curbs like this a total of three times in the E36 but the characteristics of its 16" rims resulted in no damage. The 330's 18" low profile setup, on the other hand, didn't fare as well. I've been leery of low-profile tires for this and other reasons, but as they say "you wanna play, you gotta pay".

(Image: Curbed Right Rear Rim)Today I had that rim replaced with a new unit I ordered shortly after the incident. I walked into the maintenance shop to find my technican raising the car on the lift in prep for the swap. Glancing at my technician and then back at the car rising on the lift, I shook my head, half-heartedly smiled and said, "she's as bad as her older sister -- she obviously has a thing for you because she's already making excuses to see ya!"

Fortunately my technician made quick work of the rim swap (which is saying a lot if you've ever watched the process of mounting a low-profile tire -- what a royal PITA) and I was on my way in about a half hour. We managed to check the runout of the damaged rim and confirmed that it wasn't bent. That made me feel a bit better because I knew that I could get the rim repaired by a local specialty shop, but I was still irritated that this happened to the rear rim rather than the front. Why? Once repaired, I could have used the damaged front rim as a spare.

You see, the ZHP comes with a spacesaver spare and runflat tires. The car lacks a full size spare due to weight and cost concerns, primarily, but also because the rims are staggered -- 18x8 in the front and 18x8.5 in the rear. If I want to replace the spacesaver with a full size spare I could do it as long as I used the 18x8 rim because that fits on all four corners while the 8.5 only fits on the rear. Unfortunately, the damaged rim came from the rear so if I get it repaired it will only get used if I bend one of the rear rims. Pessimist that I am, however, I fully expect that to happen at some point, so I think this is a case of pay now or pay later.

While a bulk of the cost of owning a BMW is due to high parts and labor prices courtesy of BMW, sometimes it's all because of the driver. My bad.

Total Mileage: 430, Parts: $410, Labor: $90, Total Cost: $525.